The NFL on Sunday: Looking at a League in Protest

AP John Sleezer
AP Photo/John Sleezer

As the regular NFL season kicked into high gear this Sunday, nearly two dozen players across the league decided to continue former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s radical protests against the United States during the playing of the national anthem. While Kaepernick may be but an NFL memory as a free agent left unsigned for 2017, his protests are continuing.

Several of the players who protested during the anthem had already launched their efforts in the pre-season, while some are continuing their protests from last year. However, some of the players are new to the protests, ESPN reported. Here are the players who protested in week one:

First of all, the team that hosted Kaepernick’s original protest, the San Francisco 49ers, saw a large group of its players join the protest. Safety Eric Reed continued his protest from last year when he supported then fellow team mate Kaepernick. Yet, several other players also surrounded Reid, with many placing their hands on his shoulders, to support his protest against the country:

Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett continued his protest from the pre-season by refusing to stand during the playing of the national theme. However, this time he was joined by several teammates. Defensive end Cliff Avril also stayed seated during the song, and center Justin Britt showed his support of Bennett’s protest by placing his hand on Bennett’s shoulder. Running back Thomas Rawls stood close to Bennett’s side, as well. Bennett had also stayed seated during a pre-season game:

Bennett was in the news last week for claiming that the Las Vegas police racially profiled him and mistreated him during an incident on August 26.

Running back Marshawn Lynch also continued his pre-season protests as his Oakland Raiders faced Tennessee.

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Robert Quinn stood for the anthem but raised his fist during the song. Quinn also protested last year after Kaepernick started the trend.

Another fist-raiser was Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett who had been saying he wasn’t sure if he would join the anti-American protests.

Also joining the protests with a raised fist was the Philadelphia Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins. Defensive end Chris Long and Safety Rodney McLeod placed their hands on Jenkins’ shoulders to support his protest.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters refused to stand for the song and sat on an equipment table with his helmet cocked on the back of his head:

Finally, breaking from their pre-season protest, the Cleveland Browns stood for the anthem. The team also participated with local police and EMTs in a U.S. flag ceremony after the first responders had initially decided to boycott Browns games.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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